The best cookbooks of 2022 so far

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It’s officially the season of backyard barbecues, lakeside picnics and summer potlucks. That means it’s also time to crack open some new cookbooks for inspiration — and we have some recommendations.

Spring unleashed a flurry of titles from familiar names — from several New York Times recipe contributors to former Bon Appetit editors as well as local chefs like Matt Horn of Horn Barbecue and the late Sally Schmitt. There were books from TikTok stars and a “Great British Baking Show” contestant, plus the much-anticipated second book from recipe developer J. Kenji López-Alt, also a founder of San Mateo restaurant Wursthall.

But after initial hype faded away, a few favorites emerged — some with distinct and memorable points of view, others winning us over with approachable, reliable recipes. (Find four of those recipes below.) Here are seven of our favorite new cookbooks from spring 2022.

“A Good Day to Bake” by Benjamina Ebuehi.

“A Good Day to Bake” by Benjamina Ebuehi.

Provided by Quadrille

A Good Day to Bake

Benjamina Ebuehi, who competed on “The Great British Bake Off” in 2016, wrote her second cookbook during the COVID-19 lockdown. Throughout “A Good Day to Bake,” she channels the quiet, mindful baking energy many experienced during the earliest, longest days of the pandemic. Combined with stunning photography and a dreamy aesthetic, these recipes feel modern yet approachable. An eggy custard tart gets an earthy undertone from bay leaves while black pepper rains down on roasted strawberries over wobbly yogurt. There are savory bakes, too, like golden turmeric milk bread buns. But an early favorite is the sweet-and-savory miso white chocolate cookies that are unusually thick, rich and complex. (Find the recipe below.) — J.B.

“A Good Day to Bake: Simple Baking Recipes for Every Mood” by Benjamina Ebuehi (Quadrille; 191 pages; $39.99)

“Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora” by Reem Assil.

“Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora” by Reem Assil.

Provided by Ten Speed Press

Arabiyya

Bold, colorful and political — would you expect anything less from Reem Assil? In her debut cookbook, the chef and founder of Reem’s California shares the deeply personal stories behind opening her first restaurant in Oakland’s Fruitvale, rising to national acclaim and simply existing as an Arab American in the food world. The recipes are excellent too, including savory breads, luscious dips, festive entrees and spiced desserts. You’ll find recipes for Reem’s favorites like mana’eesh, the flatbreads that form the basis of Assil’s bakery, as well as spins on classics like the holiday cookie ma’moul med, which Assil converts to buttery bars with a citrusy, espresso-tinged date filling. With many of the small plates, from Reem’s staple muhammara to a tahini-laced Swiss chard spread, being make-ahead friendly, “Arabiyya” is also an ideal aid for future dinner parties. — J.B.

“Arabiyya: Recipe From the Life of an Arab in Diaspora” by Reem Assil (Ten Speed Press; 304 pages; $35)

“Korean American” by Eric Kim.

“Korean American” by Eric Kim.

Provided by Clarkson Potter

Korean American

Eric Kim devotees follow the New York Times cooking columnist for his delightful food as much as his beautifully personal writing. His debut cookbook, “Korean American,” gifts readers with both. Through recipes that unabashedly embrace his Korean and American roots, like cheeseburger kimbap and lasagna punched up with gochujang and gochugaru, he shares his journey of embracing his mixed identity. Kim wrote the book during the pandemic while temporarily living at his childhood home in Georgia and coaxing family recipes from his mother. The results are delicious. Easy, fast and fun, his sesame-soy deviled eggs offer a prime example of how Kim seamlessly adds subtle Korean touches to all-American classics. (See the recipe below.) The book is an excellent primer for anyone wanting to explore Korean home cooking at all levels. Learn the art of gyeranjjim, eggs steamed to silkiness in the microwave; or apply the best parts of yangnyeom, the finger-sticking sauce usually reserved for Korean fried chicken, to a whole roast chicken or crispy garbanzo beans for a snacky, caramelized banchan. — E.K.

“Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home” by Eric Kim (Clarkson Potter; $32.50; 288 pages)

“Snackable Bakes” by Jessie Sheehan.

“Snackable Bakes” by Jessie Sheehan.

Provided by Countryman Press

Snackable Bakes

This book is for the person who loves sweets but doesn’t think they have the skills or time to bake at home. Infectiously upbeat and breezy, Jessie Sheehan has assembled 100 remarkably easy recipes that can be assembled in 20 minutes or less. In reality, this looks like short ingredient lists, some shortcuts (such as melting butterscotch chips for a not-too-sweet butterscotch pudding), zero waiting to chill dough in the fridge and a preference for the most basic equiment. (Yes, there are one-bowl recipes.) Despite this stripped-down approach, Sheehan, a TikTok star who got her start at the famed Baked in New York, still manages to pull off satisfying classics as well as fresh-feeling originals. Think zippy, gluten-free salt-and-pepper cookies; a giant, sliceable peanut butter cup; and chewy milk chocolate-tahini bars. (The latter recipe is below.) — J.B.

“Snackable Bakes: 100 Easy-Peasy Recipes for Exceptionally Scrumptious Sweets and Treats” by Jessie Sheehan (Countrymann Press; 240 pages; $28)

“The Cook You Want to Be” by Andy Baraghani.

“The Cook You Want to Be” by Andy Baraghani.

Provided by Lorena Jones Books

The Cook You Want to Be

Andy Baraghani grew up in Berkeley and started his cooking career at Chez Panisse, but he’s best known for his time as a senior editor and recipe developer for Bon Appetit. The magazine’s penchant for all things tangy, crunchy and herbaceous come through Baraghani’s debut cookbook, which is full of home cook-friendly, vibrant recipes. Charred-then-braised cabbage becomes melty tender before getting blasted with lemon zest, walnuts and anchovies. A simple pot of rice is treated like royalty with a simple yet astonishing duo of butter and seaweed. Other recipes showcase Baraghani’s Iranian heritage, like his version of kuku sabzi, an herb-packed frittata, and sticky, sweet-sour chicken braised with pomegranate molasses. (Get some of these recipes and read an excerpt here . For a hefty vegetarian pasta with chickpeas, see recipe below.) — J.B.

“The Cook You Want to Be: Everyday Recipes to Impress” by Andy Baraghani (Lorena Jones Books; 336 pages; $35)

“The Wok: Recipes and Techniques” by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

“The Wok: Recipes and Techniques” by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

Provided by W. W. Norton & Company

The Wok

At 658 pages, “The Wok” is a giant of a cookbook dedicated to wok cookery. Author J. Kenji López-Alt, known for his scientific approach to recipe development with his previous cookbook “The Food Lab” and his work at Serious Eats, goes deep into every seemingly minute facet, guiding readers on how to choose a wok, chop vegetables for stir-fries and break up grains before attempting fried rice. While the recipes are clearly written and reliable — the mapo tofu is particularly delicious — the real reason to pick up “The Wok” is everything else. The comprehensive essays and breakdowns of techniques will give cooks of all levels a new appreciation for this workhorse kitchen tool. — J.B.

“The Wok: Recipes and Techniques” by J. Kenji López-Alt (WW Norton; 656 pages; $66)

“Watermelon and Red Birds,” a cookbook by Nicole A. Taylor.

“Watermelon and Red Birds,” a cookbook by Nicole A. Taylor.

Courtesy Beatriz da Costa

Watermelon and Red Birds

Author Nicole A. Taylor brings Juneteenth into the 21st century with this cookbook, which is poised to become the seminal culinary reference for the holiday. The seasoned recipe writer walks the reader through the traditions — red food and drinks, check — before shattering them with updates that feel both fresh and authentic. Grilled pork chops get some Shake ‘n’ Bake-style crunch from dukkah, and miso adds depth to her Bloody Marys. Even outside of the bounds of the holiday, readers will find reasons to go back to this book, which includes some great cookout recipes — the potato salad is calling — and ironclad techniques for sauces like harissa and collard greens pesto. Her directions are easy to read and calming, which will be a boon to the frazzled party host, and her stories of Juneteenths past are tender celebrations of Black joy. — S.H.

“Watermelon & Red Birds” by Nicole A. Taylor (Simon & Schuster Inc.; 270 pages; $29.99)

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